Cut, Attack & Slash—Down to the Marrow

Several years ago I checked out a book from the library called “How the Great Comedy Writers Create Laughter” by Larry Wilde.  The book, published in 1976, has many dated references but it also contains ideas that are timeless.

I liked the book so much that I copied one section and have referred back to it many times over the years.  The following paragraph is from late comedy writer Stanley Ralph Ross who spoke to the author about rewriting and editing.

“After finishing the work, put it away for anywhere from five minutes to five days, pull it out, and start cutting.  Writing is rewriting, and don’t ever forget it.  When you’ve cut all the fat away, attack the meat.  Then slash at the bone.  When all you have is the marrow, and the marrow is hysterical, you’ve written a sketch.”

That paragraph, I feel, contains excellent guidance for everyone who writes.  Today, rewriting is so much easier than it was in the days before word processors and the internet.  Even a blog post such as this one can easily be revised over and over again.

Editing is vital in today’s shorter-than-ever attention span world.  Is there anything you’ve written lately that could use a trim?


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